Flurry of diplomatic activity on Libya as SG, High Commissioner make strong statements, CSW opens at HQ, and more from UN Direct

Libya: yesterday, the SG issued a statement expressing his “outrage” at reports that Libyan authorities have been firing on demonstrators, adding that, if confirmed, the attacks would “constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law and would be condemned” in the strongest terms.  He also spoke to Qaddafi by phone yesterday in a lengthy conversation in which he told him that human rights and freedoms of assembly and speech must be protected and “forcefully urged him to stop violence against demonstrators”.  Speaking to the press in LA yesterday, he said the violence “must stop immediately” and expressed his hope that the situation would be resolved “peacefully through dialogue”.  He also indicated that he has spoken to the King of Bahrain, as well as Egyptian military leadership, and plans to dispatch senior officials to Egypt soon.  He also issued a statement on Sunday expressing his concern about reports of escalating violence and bloodshed in the Middle East and North Africa and reiterating his call for the non-use of force and respect for basic freedoms.  This afternoon the Security Council met at the request of DPR of Libya, who is asking for the establishment of a no-fly zone.  Additionally, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today called for an immediate cessation of the grave human rights violations committed by Libyan authorities and urged an independent international investigation into the violent suppression of protests in the country. Furthermore, she said, “The callousness with which Libyan authorities and their hired guns are reportedly shooting live rounds of ammunition at peaceful protestors is unconscionable. I am extremely worried that lives are being lost even as I speak.” Meanwhile, UNHCR is concerned about dangers for civilians and especially for asylum-seekers and refugees as many may inadvertently be caught up in the violence. The Agency doesn’t have access to the refugee community at this point.  Also today, the AJC has called on the GA to suspend Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council.

CSW: DSG Asha-Rose Migiro addressed the opening of the 55th session of the CSW this morning, calling the past year a “significant 12 months for gender equality and women’s empowerment”.  Speaking on UN Women, she called its launch a “historical achievement” and noted that Bachelet will present its strategic plan to its next Executive Board meeting in June.  She also encouraged participants to explore ways to reinforce the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and noted her interest in the preparations for Rio+20.  Michele Bachelet also addressed CSW this morning, reminding delegates of their “enormous responsibility” of working towards gender equality and calling for “frank analysis” about challenges that countries are facing and how they can be addressed.  She also touched on the panel which will be held next week on maternal mortality, stating that it will be an opportunity to identify good practices and interventions and provide further impetus to the implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

Côte d’Ivoire: UNOCI has deplored the level of violence in Abidjan and surrounding areas, particularly the use of heavy weapons.

UNEP: yesterday, UNEP released “Towards a green economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication”, which said that investing 2% of global GDP (yielding $1.3 trillion annually) into ten sectors can kick-start a transition to a low-carbon green economy, which would grow the economy at the same rate – if not higher – than those currently forecast.

DRC: Yesterday Margot Wallstrom welcomed the conviction of several army officers in the northeastern part of the DRC, noting that the military not only reacted swiftly but also conducted the legal proceedings fairly, adding that accountability for sexual violence is possible. The SG is aware of the sentencing and fully backs Wallstrom’s statement.

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